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June 25, 2013

A Social Security Win for Transgender People

Today’s post is from Aaron Tax, Director of Federal Government Relations, on exciting news from the Social Security Administration.

TransagingreportIn 2011 SAGE and the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) launched a historic Transgender Aging Advocacy Initiative to outline the many policy and practice barriers facing transgender and gender non-conforming older adults, as well as some key solutions for addressing these barriers.  One of our top policy priorities was asking the Social Security Administration (SSA) to eliminate gender as a data field in all of its automated verification programs, and to update policies to permit an individual to change the gender designation in her or his SSA record based on a letter from a physician stating that she or he has had appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition.

Pursuant to that goal, in January of this year, the Alliance for Retired Americans and the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare worked alongside SAGE to partner with more than two dozen aging organizations from the Leadership Council of Aging organizations, in a letter to the SSA Commissioner advocating for these changes.   

And earlier this month, after years of advocacy spearheaded by NCTE, SSA announced groundbreaking advances in how transgender individuals, including transgender older adults, will be able to able to change their gender with the SSA, consistent with the requests outlined above.

As NCTE outlines:

Social Security will accept any of the following forms of evidence for a gender marker change:

  • A U.S. passport showing the correct gender,
  • A birth certificate showing the correct gender,
  • A court order recognizing the correct gender, or
  • A signed letter from a [provider] confirming that you have had appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition

NCTE provides detailed advice on its website, addressing a number of questions, including the impact of this change on Social Security benefits, health benefits, and marriage-related benefits.

For additional information, visit transequality.org and the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging.

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